In this post, we’ve collected some highlights from the past five years of our Safe Browsing efforts, aimed at keeping people safe online. See the Security Blog for the full details and more visuals. -Ed.

Five years ago, we launched Safe Browsing, an initiative designed to keep people safe from malicious content online. Our primary goal was to safeguard Google’s search results against malware (software capable of taking control of your computer) and phishing (fraudulent websites that entice users to give up their personal information). We also wanted to help educate webmasters on how to protect their own sites.

Malware and phishing are still big problems online, but our Safe Browsing team has labored continuously to adapt to the rising challenges of new threats. We’ve also developed an infrastructure that automatically detects harmful content around the globe.

Here’s a look at the highlights from our efforts over the past five years:

  • We protect 600 million users through built-in protection for Chrome, Firefox and Safari, where we show several million security warnings every day to Internet users. When we detect malware or phishing, we trigger a red warning screen that discourages clicking through to the website. Our free and public Safe Browsing API allows other organizations to keep their users safe by using the data we’ve compiled.
  • We find about 9,500 new malicious websites every day and show warnings to protect users. These are either innocent websites that have been compromised by malware authors, or others that are built specifically for malware distribution or phishing. Our detection techniques are highly accurate—we have had only a handful of false positives.
  • Approximately 12-14 million Google Search queries per day warn users about current malware threats, and we provide malware warnings for about 300 thousand downloads per day through our download protection service for Chrome.
  • We send thousands of notifications daily to webmasters. When webmasters sign up for Webmaster Tools we give them the option to receive warning notices if we find something malicious on their site.

Malware and phishing aren’t completely solvable problems because threats continue to evolve, but our technologies and processes do, too.

Phishing and malware trends
Online commerce sites are still favorite phishing targets because phishers are motivated by money. Some tried-and-true phishing methods are still used, but attacks are also getting more creative and sophisticated. Attacks are faster, with phishers sometimes remaining online for less than an hour to try to avoid detection. They’re also more geographically dispersed and are getting more targeted.

Malware authors often compromise legitimate sites to deliver content from a malicious attack site or to redirect to an attack site. These attack sites will often deliver “drive-by downloads” to visitors, which launch and run malware programs on their computers without their knowledge. To try to avoid detection, these attack sites adopt several techniques, such as rapidly changing their Internet location with free web hosting services and auto-generated domain names. Although less common than drive-by downloads, we’re also seeing more malware authors bypassing software vulnerabilities altogether and instead employing methods to try to trick users into installing malicious software—for example, fake anti-virus software.

How you can help prevent malware and phishing
Our system is designed to protect users at high volumes, but people still need to take steps to keep their computers safe. Ignoring a malware problem is never a good idea—if one of our warnings pop up, you should never click through to the suspicious site. Webmasters can help protect their visitors by signing up for malware warnings at Google Webmaster Tools. These warnings are free and will help us inform them if we find suspicious code on their sites. Finally, everyone can help make our system better. You can opt-in to send additional data to our team that helps us expand the coverage of Safe Browsing.

Looking forward
Some of our recent work to counter new forms of abuse includes:

It’s a good feeling to know that we’re making the web more secure and directly protecting people from harm—whether they’re our users or not. We continue to invest heavily in the Safe Browsing team so we can defend against current and future security threats.


The Official Google Blog

Celebrating our super-mom users

These days, moms use technology in a ton of creative and resourceful ways to keep their families running smoothly. As a working mom myself, I use Google Calendar to keep track of our three busy kids and all their different activities, sports and schools. Technology also keeps us connected—I’m always amazed at how a Google+ Hangout between my kids in California and their grandparents in France can make the distance between them feel so small.

In celebration of Mother’s Day this weekend, we thought we’d applaud the many tech-savvy super-moms out there by sharing a few of their stories.

Heather Fay, using Google+ to make her dream a reality
Heather, from New Haven, Conn., is a stay-at-home mom of two who has always had a passion for music and performing. Until recently, her music career took a backseat to her responsibilities at home, but when she signed up for Google+ in 2011, she realized she could find an audience using Hangouts—without stepping foot outside of her home. Now Heather can sing and play her guitar for people, no matter where they live in the world. Between changing diapers and cleaning up spilled cereal, she’s on Google+ engaging with more than 13,000 fans, collaborating with other musicians on an epic live concert and sharing the occasional mommy woes. You can find out more about her music on Google Play, where you can also hear a tribute to her daughter called “Ruby’s Song.”

Sarah Stocker, bringing robots to life with Chrome
Sarah, from San Francisco, is the co-founder of My Robot Nation, a Chrome web app that lets you create a unique robot online, then have it printed in full-color 3D and mailed to your door. When developing My Robot Nation, Sarah employed some of the most advanced web technologies, such as WebGL, to bring the 3D experience to the browser; however, making the app easy for people to use was paramount. Enter Sarah’s 10-year-old son Max. He designed the first robot and was My Robot Nation’s first “customer.” The fact that Max could create something online and then hold it in his hands made Sarah feel like the coolest mom ever—and he’s already told her that he wants to be an inventor, just like her.

Carol Galland Wildey and Danielle Yates, founders of Headcovers Unlimited
Almost 25 years ago, at the age of 40, Carol was diagnosed with breast cancer. After losing her hair due to chemotherapy treatments, she and her daughter Danielle realized how few options there were to help cancer patients look and feel like themselves throughout their treatment. In 1994, she and Danielle started Headcovers Unlimited, selling hats, wigs and scarves for patients with hair loss. Danielle helped take the business online in 1995, launching www.headcovers.com. Based in League City, Tex., the Internet helps them reach women in more than 60 countries; and more than half their customers have come through online advertising with AdWords.

Betty Givan, preserving family recipes with YouTube
For years, Betty has been cataloguing and saving family recipes to pass along to her own daughter. At first, she used a scrapbook of recipe cards, but one day, while making nachos for a football game, she decided to make a video of the process and asked her daughter to film it. Soon, she was filming and posting her favorites on a YouTube channel and today, it’s become her full-time business from her Richmond, Ky. home. With more than 1,100 videos of her southern cooking recipes and 16 million video views, Betty has become a mom to people all around the world.

Karen Castelletti, Googler reunited with her birth mother using Google Search
Not only can search help you find what you’re looking for, it can also help you reconnect with the people you care about. Karen grew up knowing she was adopted, and always thought it would be too difficult to find and connect with her birth parents. Then, when she was 22, she received a message from her birth mom, Mary Ellen. Mary Ellen found Karen’s name through public birth records, and used Google Search to find one of Karen’s social networking profiles. They reconnected in time for Mary Ellen to watch Karen graduate from college alongside her adoptive parents, and today they speak regularly.

I hope the stories of these super-moms have inspired you to use technology in ways that keep you connected, organized and creative, so you can spend more time doing the things that matter—having fun with your kids!


The Official Google Blog

An accessibility survey for blind users

These days, we rely on the Internet to keep us informed and in touch, yet our experience of the web is filtered through the tools we use to access it. The devices and technologies we choose, and our decisions about when we upgrade those tools, can affect how we interact with the web and with whom we are able to communicate.

In July, I attended the annual conference held by the American Council of the Blind (ACB). I was struck by something I heard from people there: their experience using the web was very different from mine not because they were blind, but because the technology and web tools available to them were unlike the ones available to me, as a sighted person. While the Internet provides many benefits to modern society, it has also created a unique set of challenges for blind and low-vision users who rely on assistive technologies to use the web. We’re committed to making Google’s products more accessible, and we believe the best way to understand the accessibility needs of our users is to listen to them.

This week, we’re announcing a survey that will help us better understand computer usage and assistive technology patterns in the blind community. Over the past three months, we’ve worked closely with the ACB to develop a survey that would give us a greater understanding of how people choose and learn about the assistive technologies they use. This survey will help us design products and tools that interact more effectively with assistive technologies currently available to the blind community, as well as improve our ability to educate users about new features in our own assistive technologies, such as ChromeVox and TalkBack.

The survey will be available through mid-September on the ACB’s website and by phone. We encourage anyone with a visual impairment who relies on assistive technologies to participate; your input will help us offer products that can better suit your needs. For details, visit www.acb.org/googlesurvey.


The Official Google Blog

AOL owned, about.me has just rolled out a new feature that it’s beta testing – @about.me email addresses. While @about.me addresses were previously only used by team members, they’re extending the service to anyone who has an account.

Your username will become your email address, and you can send and receive emails, and see your incoming messages in your about.me dashboard. About.me’s email also supports IMAP and POP, so you can plug in your email address into your preferred email client.

Log in to your about.me account, and go to ‘Offers’ to claim your email address now.

Of course about.me’s email is powered by AOL, so if you go to your main inbox, this is what you’re going to see:

That said, you can still compose, read and reply to messages directly from within about.me.

About.me’s move may encourage more people to use AOL’s email, but at the same time, how many people are actually willing to ditch their preferred email service for this? While there is certainly a convenience in having an email address that ties directly into what is essentially a virtual business card, I’d guess that people are more likely to set up their about.me address, and simply forward all messages to their main email account.

If nothing else, if you managed to snag your first name for your about.me account, it will definitely make for a cool email address that’s very easy to share.

TNW Aggregated Feed

With the 2011 Thai General Election fast approaching, the nation is gearing up to embrace what could herald a new chapter for the country, and revitalize its democracy after more than 5 years of political crisis.

But news has emerged that Thais could face a stint in jail and a hefty fine if they’re caught commenting on any of the candidates or the parties on Twitter – or any other digital channel – in the build up to the election.

Polling stations are open from 8am until 3pm (local time) on Sunday 3rd July, but the blanket ban is in place from 6pm on Saturday until midnight on Sunday, with 100 police officers in place to check that the ban is adhered to. Anyone caught breaking the ban face up to six months in prison and a 10,000 baht ($ 330) fine.

Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn, Secretary-General of the Election Commission, said:

“Any candidates and their supporters will face jail time if they are caught campaigning on social media websites on the evening before the July 3 election.”

But the ban extends beyond Twitter and social networks into the wider digital media sphere too, with texts and forwarding emails also apparently prohibited.

Police spokesman, Prawut Thavornsiri, said:

“There will be a unit of more than 100 officers to monitor this. If we can track the origin of (an online message) right away, we will block the site and make an arrest. But if the sites are registered overseas and we can’t check the origin, we’ll first block it and ask the IP (Internet Protocol) providers for further investigation.”

Some have suggested that the ban could potentially be used to disqualify winning candidates if it’s found that someone has been aided by online campaigning during the blackout period.

Twitter in particular has proven to be a popular tool for social and political campaigning, as it allows users to share and access news and information in real-time as events happen. And it also affords users anonymity letting them express opinions and divulge sensitive information without the fear of  being reprimanded.

It will be difficult to see exactly how the law could be effectively enforced in a country with almost 70m people, almost 20m of which are online with 8m using Facebook alone.

TNW Aggregated Feed

Many of the tasks we’ve traditionally undertaken have been moving over to mobile over the past few years thanks to devices like the iPhone that have shifted our expectations.

Email usage is one of those tasks, with email marketing company Campaign Monitor revealing some interesting patterns from the last two years of data it has collected from — and here’s a sample size for you — over 2 billion recipients.

The percentage of emails opened on a mobile device has risen from just 4% in May 2009 to 20% in May 2011 while desktop client usage has declined by 11%. Webmail has shown the least change over two years, with a 4% decline.

As one might expect, among mobile devices the iPhone is leading the pack with a whopping 71.98% lead. The iPad actually appears next at 14.95% before other smartphones such as Android, which makes up 8.24% of the mobile email use.

One of the points that David Greiner, co-founder of Campaign Monitor, makes is that CSS support on mobile devices is generally far superior to support in desktop clients. If these trends continue and clients with CSS support become the norm we could be moving toward a golden age for email design, like the one we’ve seen on the web this year as HTML5 and CSS3 support has become more widespread.

TNW Aggregated Feed

Welcome, Google Apps users!

Google Apps recently launched an improvement that made dozens of exciting Google services available to Google Apps users for the first time. As part of this launch, Google Website Optimizer is now available to our Google Apps users for free with their Apps accounts.
Google Apps is Google’s suite of cloud-based messaging and collaboration apps, including Gmail, calendar, documents, spreadsheets, and more, specifically optimized for use in organizations. These services, which run entirely in the cloud, are used by more than 30 million users in small and large businesses, educational institutions, government agencies, and non-profit organizations around the world. You can learn more about how Google Apps can lower IT costs and improve productivity and collaboration at your organization at google.com/apps.
For those users who have a Google Apps account, if your administrator has already transitioned your organization to the new infrastructure, you can get started using Google Website Optimizer at google.com/websiteoptimizer with your existing Apps account.
For more details, read the complete post on the Google Enterprise blog and follow all the updates on other newly available services for Google Apps users.


Google Website Optimizer Blog

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